Nova Scotia

Veronica Park's family looking for answers in inmate's death

A female inmate who died while in the custody of Correctional Service Canada complained of chest pains for days leading up to her death, says her family.

Park's family alleges prison staff ignored her health complaints

Veronica Park was serving a three-year sentence at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, N.S. for robbery and breach of recognizance. (Facebook)

A female inmate who died while in the custody of Correctional Service Canada complained of chest pains for days leading up to her death, says her family.

Veronica Park died April 24 after being taken to hospital. She was serving a three-year sentence at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, N.S. for robbery and breach of recognizance.

Park grew up in Corner Brook, N.L. On Friday, her family and friends had a funeral service for her, although they're still waiting to be told exactly how she died.

"We're just so lost here because finding answers has been difficult," said Gordon Park, Veronica's brother.

"To get sick that fast and die so sudden? I don't know. I've never heard of it."

The last time he spoke with his sister was on April 15. 

"She was happy, very happy. Feeling the best she ever felt," said Park.

He said on April 22, Veronica complained about a sore throat after playing volleyball. The next morning, the pain had spread to her chest and she requested medical help at the med line where inmates receive daily medication. Her brother says she was given an asthma inhaler. 

On April 24, the chest pain had worsened and she complained again to prison staff, said her brother. He alleges they ignored her complaints.

That afternoon, Veronica died in hospital.

"She obviously had to be ill and showing signs of it," Park said.

"To us, it's neglect. It is."

In the days following Park's death, CBC News requested numerous interviews with the assistant warden at the Nova Institution for Women. 

A news release served as the facility's only official comment.

"As in all cases involving the death of an inmate, the police and the coroner have been notified, and the Correctional Service of Canada will review the circumstances of the incident," said part of the release.

A coroner's inquest

An official with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice said the medical examiner's office has launched a coroner's inquest and will release the findings to Correctional Service Canada when they become available.

Park's family say they expect to wait months before getting any closure or answers from the prison, once the inquest concludes.

Gordon Park said he only wishes staff would have paid closer attention to his sister's health when she started showing signs of illness.

"It should have been dealt with then, instead of when it was too late," he said.

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